30 July 2009

Advanced Diver Certification

I completed my Advanced Diver certification tonight. The final dive that counted towards it was a night dive. We left this evening around 7:45pm bound for "The Plane" - a dive site we had all been to before. It's a good idea to go to a place you've been to before when doing a night dive, given the "diminished conditions." I wasn't nervous before the dive, or at all during it, but I will admit a bit of anxiety on the boat ride out there. Humans are already completely out our element underwater, but when you add darkness it's quite a different world.

Green Sea Turtle

We all carried underwater flashlights (or "torches" as our British instructors call them) and fastened chemical glowsticks to our tanks. There were 8 of us underwater and that made for quite enough light. Immediately after getting into the water there was a Green Sea Turtle. It gave us the "deer in the headlights" look and just hung around as we descended. It was great to see it for so long because turtles, I've learned, don't stick around once they know you know they are there.

We passed over the wreckage of the plane and continued onward. Oddly enough, everything looks quite a bit more brilliant on a night dive. This is because your light source is in your hand rather than at the surface. Red is filtered out first as light passes down through water so you usually don't see anything that color. But when you shine your flashlight on it, all the colors come back.

Shortly before I reached the half-tank mark, and just before we turned around to return to the boat we came across a second sea turtle. There was a Hawksbill Turtle sleeping under a large overhanging coral block. I didn't realize turtles slept, and didn't know it was sleeping until somebody said so back on the surface. Apparently sea turtles don't have eyelids, so it just sat there open-eyed and motionless a few inches above the bottom. My second lengthy look at a sea turtle tonight! Directly above it was a Lionfish too. It was sitting against the overhang, like the first one I saw, inverted. I'm starting to wonder if maybe I'm looking at them wrong and they are right side up, but I'm pretty sure I saw what I saw. I'll be sure to look extra close next time - well, close enough without getting poked anyway!

Hawksbill Sea Turtle

When we had to leave the turtle because of low air we turned and found a juvenile Nurse Shark had come to investigate us. It was only a couple feet long and quickly retreated when we all put our lights on it. Just before our ascent, we came across a squid. The first squid I've seen. It was pretty small, 6 or 8 inches, but I'm not sure what species is was because it's dark right now and I can't read my ID book right without waking up Jessee. I passed underneath the squid, facing upwards. It too froze while our lights were on it. Then, suddenly, it shot out in one direction, leaving behind a red-ish cloud of ink.

So now I'm officially an Advanced Diver. Or, I carry an Advanced Diver card, anyhow. It might take a few more dives to really be advanced.

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